Utilities Disputes commissioner Nanette Moreau says she is concerned Kiwis are in the dark about what to do when their power is disconnected.

More than 6,000 homes were disconnected in the last quarter of 2016, due to no payment, but just 41 people of 6170 homes made complaints about being disconnected.

Disclosing hardship to electricity providers is the best way forward, Moreau said.

"If people put the bill in the shoe box or in the bin, it's going to make the situation worse," she said. "Often times, if you as a consumer are vulnerable and you explain to the company that you are in a vulnerable situation, they'll try to work with you to ensure your power stays on.


"One of the difficulties is if you do get disconnected is you have the cost of disconnection and reconnection and it just makes a bad situation even worse."

The most common reason for a disconnection was people falling behind on payments, she said.

Other reasons include switching to new providers, missed correspondence, providers not following their own process, problems with contractors and misunderstandings.

Those who are disconnected should call their provider, and if it can not be resolved, should make a complaint to The Utilities Disputes, she said.

"If you receive a disconnection notice, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of all options that are open to you. If you are medically dependent or if other vulnerability conditions apply, you must let your provider know right away."

Utilities Disputes commissioner Nanette Moreau.
Utilities Disputes commissioner Nanette Moreau.

Last year 23,724 homes were disconnected from power, according to an Electricity Authority report on disconnections.

The Utilities Disputes, formerly the Office of the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner, has handled more than 60,000 cases since 2001.